What Barca are likely securing through the 23-year-old is a player for the future. His arrival won’t solve any pressing issue at the club, but is crucial in view of their aging roster. They have badly required players of the caliber of Xavi and Iniesta, whose tenures as midfield maestros defined an entire era of football. And in Rabiot, they may be able to set up the next one.
Further, it is his passing that will be the major asset to the club. Post-Guardiola, the outfit has been defined by its passing, and Rabiot is a talent that fits this bill quite well. His penchant for being quick on the ball and a specialty for short passes plays well both in the present squad as well as the vision Ernesto Valverde may have for the future, if there is one for the gaffer, that is.
Essentially, through Rabiot, the Catalans will slowly alter their style from a possession-based approach to a more quick-paced one, in tune with how most European giants are shaping up as of recent. It is important to view him as a cog in bringing about the club’s evolution, particularly given how the era that Lionel Messi brought about is rapidly coming to an end.
On the matter of fitting into the current squad, Rabiot will be the ideal replacement for Ivan Rakitic in the 4-3-3. The Croatian, while an able player, is slowly aging, proving to be incapable of aping the antics that first made him the rock of this side. In Rabiot, Valverde will be able to find a quicker and more creative player who is willing to make runs and link up with the attacking trident.
The aforementioned conduit role will be crucial, as it is arguably the dynamic that has been missing since Iniesta ceased being at his peak. With Sergio Busquets fulfilling the defensive duties in the midfield, Rabiot will be able to shape how the offense will move forward. When given an opportunity to do this at PSG, the youngster has been charming to say the least, and has shown a great ability to create goals.
Further, how he is able to integrate himself to the abilities of his co-midfielders could also be a daunting task. By having Busquets still in the roster, the iconic trio with him, Xavi, and Iniesta can be aped here as well. Essentially, it will now be Arthur and Rabiot respectively who will meet those duties. The altered style of play will cause adjustments in their roles, but with Busquets at the back, the past may inspire a promising model.
All in all, Rabiot will be a crucial step in the club slowly rebuilding its squad. By easing out aging players and establishing the next generation of Barcelona talents, it will be Rabiot at the heart of their midfield that could see them through into the next era.
Slow integration is the key, with longevity in mind. Tough nut for Valverde? Time will tell.